As I have come into the third trimester of my pregnancy with Kat, I have come to a few determinations.
One is that pregnancy is much easier on a 24-year-old body than it is on a 40-year-old body.
This does not mean that I regret having Kat; it just means that I am noticing a distinct difference in how my body responds to pregnancy this time around. My responses to pregnancy when I was twenty-four were much more classic: very tired, nauseous and cranky in the first trimester, very energetic and take charge in the second trimester, and then back to tired and cranky (and on bedrest) for the third trimester. (So far, we have avoided bedrest this time around. But for the last six weeks of my pregnancy with Morganna, my blood-pressure shot up, there was some protein in my urine and I started retaining fluid like a ripening watermelon. Fears of pre-eclampsia forced my doctor to tell me I had to go to bed and stay there, lest I end up in the hospital. In addition, I had to eat a low-sodium diet. This did not make me happy, but fear of hospital stays made me comply. But let it be known, that I am of the firm opinion that bed rest utterly and completely sucks.)
This time around, my experiences have been different. I was tired, nauseous and cranky for the frst trimester, and couldn’t eat meat. The not eating meat is distinctly opposite of my experience with Morganna where I craved meat of all sorts, particularly bloody rare or raw steaks. Not so this time. The scent of blood would send me running to the toilet. The second trimester, the nausea mostly faded, and I got -some- energy back, but never experienced the amorousness or the burst of crazy energy that most women seem to get in the middle three months of pregnancy. I returned to being able to eat -some- meats, but not very many, and found myself craving a lot of beans and corn and whole grains. And greens! I still go crazy for greens. (And chocolate, but that is a constant with me anyway.)
This third trimester has seen the return of the nausea, a return of the very strong meat aversion (I am disgusted to find that I only like to eat ground meats, chicken–so long as it is not bloody when I cut it up) and cured meats like ham, bacon or sausages. I also can eat and crave fish, which is good so long as I avoid the mercury-laden ones like tuna.), and a dwindling of energy that is very irritating, since I feel like I need to do everything in the world to get ready for Kat’s birth.
What is it I am doing?
Well, I am working on a quilt for her, and even though my sewing machine has started showing signs of becoming possessed again, the work is going well and reasonably fast. It is a very brightly colored scrappy quilt done primarily in batiks and hand-dyed fabrics from my stash, that include some hand-painted Indonesian batiks of dragons. You can kind of see them up in the photo at the beginning of the entry there. When the quilt top is done, which should (cross my fingers) be sometime this week, I will post a photo of it.
What do I mean when I say my machine is showing signs of becoming possessed? Well, I seem to have this effect on machinery that I use often–maybe Dan will pipe in on the comments and talk about all of the evil things that my presence used to do to the copy machines, heat tape binders and computers at the copy shop where we used to work together. Mechanical machines are the most badly affected, and the sewing machine I have is very much a mechanical one. (I break mechanical watches when I wear them–they just stop. My mother is the same way, and so was her father–interestingly, all three of us can also dowse for water. Weird crap. Grandpa’s theory was that we had some sort of difference in our electromagnetic field that caused these effects.) Anyway, sewing machines will work for me for a certain period of time, and then just start going haywire in weird ways. I do all the troubleshooting things one is supposed to do, and most of the time, these efforts do nothing, and the machine either has to be taken in for adjustments, or it just starts working again on its own recognizance.
The latter is what happened to my machine. On Saturday, while I tried to work on the quilt, it started losing it and eating fabric, the tension on the bobbin thread went mad, and the upper thread just started breaking for no reason. Nothing I did helped. I was certain that I would have to drive the beastie to Columbus this week to get it worked on, and had resolved to do this (though I did threaten the machine that if I had a shotgun, the three of us–machine, shotgun and I–would be going to the backyard and the machine would have been blown into a thousand pieces by the time I was finished with it), and had finally calmed down over it.
Yesterday, on a whim, I decided to try and see if it would behave.
It worked like a brand new machine that had just been tuned up, cleaned and oiled.
That is what I mean by “possessed.”
The other preparations I have been making have been in the kitchen. I am cleaning out our freezer and refilling it with food that Morganna and Zak can just pull out and either microwave or throw into the oven. So, I have been cooking a lot of old standards and favorites, (which I have already blogged about), such as chili, Vegetarian Enchiladas Verde, lasagne, and shepherd’s pie, and breaking up the recipes into two portions. One, we eat right away, and the second portion, I either layer into aluminum foil pans, and seal up with foil then freeze, or I dump into freezer bags, label and freeze. That way, we don’t have leftovers, but, we also have dinners ready for right after we bring Kat home to eat while I am recuperating and concentrating on getting into a breastfeeding routine with Kat.
Here is a good place to talk a little bit about freezing things for later.
Some foods freeze well.
Some foods do not.
Most things like stews, soups, and casseroles freeze really well. For stews, soups, chilis and pasta sauces, I cook them all the way, cool them all the way, and then pack them into ziplock freezer bags, press out all the excess air, and freeze them right away. (It helps if you label the bag with a Sharpie permanent marker before you fill it. After you fill it or freeze it, it is rather a pain in the butt to label it properly. And when I say properly, I mean, put the name of what you made, how many servings, and the date. Always put the date on the package.)
Potatoes in stews and soups and curries don’t so much freeze well. They get mushy in the freezer. If you must have them, it is best to omit them, and then make a note on the package for them to be added after the meal is thawed and warmed up on the stove. It never hurts a soup or stew or curry to cook a bit longer anyway, and so you can let it simmer along, then add some freshly cut up ‘taters, and then garnish it all up nice when the potatoes are done and voila–you have a fresh-tasting meal.
There is an exception to the potatoes rule. Mashed potatoes are fine frozen–in large part, I suspect because they are already mushy. So shepherd’s pie works fine, or heck, just a container of frozen mashed potatoes works nicely as well.
Casseroles I do differently. I love those little square foil pans that you can get at the grocery store. I use those to layer up a portion of the recipe, which I follow up to the baking part. Then, I seal up the pan with some foil, upon which I have written the necesssary information, including baking instructions, and boom, into the freezer it goes. Once it is frozen, I then take it back out and seal the whole thing up in a large ziplock freezer bag which I push the excess air from. This keeps the casserole tasting fresher–foil in a freezer can get pushed aside and opened up, and can allow freezer burn to happen.
Tonight, I am going to do two pans of moussaka, a classic Greek casserole of eggplant, potatoes, lamb and tomato sauce and a thick, egg and cheese enriched bechemel topping. To freeze that, I will layer to the vegetables and meat sauce and leave off the bechemel, then freeze it. The bechemel instructions I will print out, seal onto the foil wrapper with freezer tape, then seal the whole thing into a bag and put in the freezer. That way, Morganna or Zak can make the bechamel and pour it over the thawed casserole, then stick it in the oven. (Or, for that matter, I can make the bechamel and pour it over before popping it in the oven, while Zak or Morganna make salad.)
I need to get into making some pasta sauces, and putting them up in bags. Some puttanesca would be nice and freezes well, as does bolognese.
And–another project for this week includes the making of chicken stock–this will help me clear out my freezers of chicken bones, necks, feet and backs, which have been stored there with the intention of making stock at some point in the near future. I’ll drag those out today, let them thaw in the fridge, and then probably tomorrow, put the big stockpot on the stove and just watch it all day. (Yes, look for posts about moussaka and chicken stock later this week.) That way, the finished stock will take up less room than the bones, and it will be easy for me to take out and use what I need after Kat is born.
Until tomorrow, then, good cooking to you all! (I am off to see if my sewing machine is still behaving or if it has gone the way of Damien.)
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